Paul commends League Cup heroics of Bradford ahead of weekend fixture
Ahead of the visit of Bradford City to St James Park on Saturday, Exeter manager Paul Tisdale paid homage to the Bantams’ phenomenal achievement of reaching the Capital One Cup final earlier this year.
Despite the challenge of Swansea City proving a bridge too far for the West Yorkshire side at Wembley, the Bantams drew worldwide acclaim by becoming just the second fourth-tier side in the competition’s 53-year history to reach the final. But whilst being wary of their talents, Tis feels that they his troops will be viewing this game in isolation as an opportunity to take three points.
“Bradford are without doubt the standout team in League 2 this year,” said Tis. “To get to the Capital One Cup final is more than a great achievement – it’s something they won’t be seeing very often. Regardless of what happens in the league, they’ll be remembered for this for a long, long time.
“Every game is the next challenge – and Bradford are a very capable unit. We won’t be viewing their cup run in particular in this game – we’re looking at a league game in which we’re at home and they’re away. But they’re certainly a very good side.”
Tis also confirmed the severity of Matt Oakley’s injury could keep him out for the rest of the campaign. Having dislocated his shoulder after a heavy landing against Gillingham, the midfield maestro might be forced to watch from the sidelines.
“It’s a severe dislocation, and he’s going to see a specialist on Monday,” Tis confirmed. “He won’t be back in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure.
“I have to be mindful of the fact that we might have to adapt our game a bit in the next couple of games and play to the strengths in the side.”
The Grecians have reacted well to injuries during the season and have improvised well to cover for the omissions of key players. It has also meant opportunities for some of the younger players – and Jimmy Keohane and Jake Gosling in particular have both become integral parts of the first-team set-up.
Having shown themselves to be capable over the course of the year, the pair have undergone a swift learning curve to add something to the team. And while Tis admits that they probably have more weight on their shoulders than he would have liked them to at this stage, he is confident they can carry on building on the level of ability they have shown to get to this point.
“[Jimmy and Jake] both starting the season as fringe players at best, and have graduated through the reserves and worked their way into the team. It would be very unfair to put responsibility on them to play every minute of every game, though I’m sure they’d like to.
“Knowing what a promotion push is all about, and the pressure you get, the decisions you have to make and knowhow you have to have – it’s a big challenge for them. They’ve done very well to get to this point – I would have hoped those two players would be support for the squad, but it looks likely at the moment that they’ll be very much part of the playing team.
“It’s going to be a big ask, but sometimes you’re surprised how well players do and we’ll have to see whether that happens or not.”
And having beaten the Bantams by a single Jamie Cureton goal at Valley Parade earlier in the season, Tis is hopeful that the team can come away from Saturday’s game in similar spirits to the reverse fixture back in November.
“Any win is satisfying – away from home even more, and against a team as competent and effective as Bradford, it was very satisfying. It was a good week for us in beating Bradford and Gillingham, and hopefully we can come away from this week with similar emotions.”